Keter Melukha: 3rd Times the Charm

The last few years I have been completely absorbed by Yishai Ribo‘s music. Ribo is an Orthodox Israeli singer-songwriter who’s music reaches across the religious divide in Israel and beyond. In a deep way he is able to talk about the human condition with the depth of our tradition. For me it started with Seder HaAvodah in which he retells the story of the High Priest’s service in the Temple on Yom Kippur in a way that is completely touching and accessible. He has a way of taking tradition and making it relevant today. Ribo does not sacrifice depth to get his message to the masses. I guess it is not shocking that I love his music.

Two years ago Ribo started to write Keter Melukha, a stunning study of his life through this year of COVID-19 in light the Jewish calendar. It is scary to reflect how blurry time has been over the last two years. During this time so much has changed and at the same time it feels that we are still where we left off two years ago. There he starts off:

Between Parashat Teruma and Tetsaveh,
A somewhat different birthday,
Everything seems normal here:
Stage, crowd, and love.

Being between Parashat Teruma and Tetsaveh, it is worth watching this video as we get ready for the 3rd version of this experience:

There is so much I have to say about the lyrics to this song. The chorus is still so haunting, “How to maintain distance and draw close in this pain?” His question is prescient in that we are still asking ourselves this question. We are still struggling to make connection while maintaining our distance. We are clearly still in pain.

I am a process of making another contemporary page of Talmud in order to give more people access to the richness of Ribo’s music. I am not done yet, but I just could not resist sharing a draft of it that I started with the help of my friend Rabbi Joe Schwartz on this anniversary of the time between between Parashat Teruma and Tetsaveh. Check it out. I would love your thoughts and edits for this. Thank you.

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